My Top Travel Photography Hacks

Here’s some practical life hacks and travel hacks for you:

This is an excerpt from our new upcoming book, “Travel Notes”. To be notified when the book is ready, subscribe to ERIC KIM NEWSLETTER >

  1. Boil eggs in the hot water kettle in your hotel or airbnb. Buy a pack of eggs in the grocery store or convenience store, put them in the hot water kettle, and you can boil up to 6 at a time! Take them out with a spoon when hot. Also you can pack these to eat during your trip.
  2. Take photos of important documents and notes with your phone and store them in Evernote just in case you lose them. Passport, driver license, etc.
  3. At the airport, always walk into the VIP or first class line. 80% of the time they’ll let you pass and save time (even if you fly economy, like me)
  4. If you have a free breakfast buffet, take some food back to your room and put it into the fridge, or pack it into a napkin to eat for a small lunch while traveling
  5. Have a picnic for lunch! Save money for lunch by going to a convenience store and getting a rice ball, some boiled eggs, some cheese and bread, or salami. Don’t waste time on lunch, eat nice dinners.
  6. When you’re on the plane back home, use your offline time to reflect on your phone. Write with the IA WRITER app on your phone, or use Evernote. Reflect on your wins, accomplishments, and keep it positive.
  7. Instead of traveling with heavy external hard drives, don’t delete your photos on your SD CARDS. Rather, buy lots of Transcend 128gb SD cards, and don’t delete your photos, just keep them backed up there.
  8. Use Dropbox to sync your photos on the road, if you have a good internet collection.
  9. See if you can spend your entire trip NOT posting to Facebook, Snapchat, or Instagram. Use your travels as an opportunity to disconnect and reflect. I recommend not buying a SIM card or data when traveling for your phone. Just use wifi on your phone when it’s available
  10. Use the “Offline Google Maps” function before your trip to access Google maps without an internet connection.
  11. If you’re addicted to coffee (like me) travel with a “Clever dripper” and a bag of grounded beans. Make your coffee in your room in the morning, instead of wasting time to find a good coffee shop. Also for any extra coffee, extract it into a small water bottle to carry with you when you’re out and about.
  12. Travel with your own tea bags: green tea, black tea, or sleepy time chamomile tea. Just add hot water and you’re good!
  13. To experience a foreign culture like a local, just go grocery shopping! Buy groceries for yourself, and even buy the durable shopping bags as a good second bag.
  14. Travel with a “multi port” Anker charger, to charge 2-4 USB devices at once!
  15. To save weight, don’t travel with a portable battery pack. Almost all coffee shops, airports, and places have charging ports or wall outlets.
  16. Don’t worry about forgetting anything, you can always buy it abroad! Almost all big foreign cities have electronic super stores, supermarkets, etc. Don’t think you gotta pack everything.
  17. Don’t travel with an umbrella or parka: If it starts raining while you’re traveling, just buy a cheap throwaway umbrella at any local stand or convenience store.
  18. When at a restaurant, ask the server: “What’s your favorite thing to eat here?” They’ve probably sampled everything on the menu, so their recommendation is probably better than asking them a generic question like, “What’s good here?” or ”What’s popular here?”
  19. If you’re not sure where to eat, just go on a walk and look inside restaurants and choose a place to eat based on seeing how packed it is with locals. Generally places that are packed with tourists are overpriced and not great. The more locals in an establishment, the better and more affordable the food. Also avoid empty restaurants! There’s probably a reason why they get no business.
  20. Go on your whole trip without TripAdvisor, and allow yourself to get lost and wander! Use your travel experience as a chance to talk and engage with more locals.

Travel and Travel Photography Tips

Travel principles:

  1. Buffer time: Expect things to always take 25% longer than you expect. Therefore always leave to the airport and try to arrive 25% earlier than you think you should.
  2. Don’t overplan: Having a basic plan can be advantageous, however over planning is bad. Why? If you have a plan, and unexpected things happen which derail your plans, you’re going to get frustrated. And the nature of the reality of traveling is that is that things will never go according to your plan! For example, expect to lose some days because of stomach issues, jetlag, lost luggage, etc.
  3. Learning local words and phrases: One of the best parts of traveling is connecting with the local culture and people. Learn some basic phrases during your trip such as, “Can I take your photo?”, “Where are you from?”, “What is your favorite food?”
  4. Physical Fitness tips: Workout at the local park (chin ups, dips, push-ups), and don’t feel you need to be walking around all day. Every few hours, sit down for a coffee or tea, and drink lots of water. The best way to overcome jetlag is to have short, intense and vigorous workouts in the morning!
  5. Traveling with family tips: Recognize there’s no way to please everyone in your family. I think it’s best for there to be one main decision maker. Try to listen to the suggestions of everyone in your family, but ultimately appoint one person to be the master decision maker. 6. Try to make decisions that will please 80% of the people in your family.
  6. Should you work while you travel? This is a personal decision. Some of us can elect or choose to disconnect during our trip. Others prefer to work while traveling. There’s no right or wrong answer here. Just ask yourself what you prefer, and what you think will be best for you!
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